Florida's two-deep: Running back

June, 10, 2014
Jun 10
10:00
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Editor's note: We're breaking down the Gators' two-deep depth chart every day for the next two weeks. We'll cover every position as well as offer a glimpse into the future. You can read the whole series here.

RUNNING BACK

The starter: Sophomore Kelvin Taylor

The backup: Senior Mack Brown

The rest: Junior Matt Jones, redshirt freshman Adam Lane and true freshman Brandon Powell.

[+] EnlargeMatt Jones
Mark Cornelison/Lexington Herald-Leader via Getty ImagesA healthy Matt Jones would make the Florida rushing attack even stronger than it already is.
The lowdown: Taylor was the starter late last season and earned a spot on the SEC's All-Freshman Team. With some flashes of what's to come, Taylor began to emerge from the sizable shadow of his father, Gators great Fred Taylor. There are significant expectations for the high school star who broke Emmitt Smith's record as the the state of Florida's all-time leading rusher, and Taylor bolstered hopes by showing improved quickness and athleticism in his second spring. Brown became a reliable backup in 2013 and led the Gators with 543 yards rushing. But the big wildcard here is Jones, who went into last season as the unquestioned starter before running into a string of medical issues. If he can fully recover from a torn meniscus as the UF staff expects, Jones could split carries with Taylor. Before the injuries, Florida coaches were looking for Jones to explode as one of the SEC's top runners. Also in the mix are Lane and Powell, either of whom could provide a change of pace. Aside from personnel, one of the biggest questions for this group is how Florida's new shotgun spread offense will impact the running game. Head coach Will Muschamp still expects a power run game to be a staple of UF's offense, while offensive coordinator Kurt Roper says the spread will result in more open space as well as more opportunities for the backs to catch passes.

The future: Tailback is one of the most stable positions in the program with plenty of depth and talent, but that could change quickly if Jones can't return to his previous level of play. Lane showed a lot of promise in his first spring. He packs a lot of power into his 5-foot-7, 222-pound bowling ball of a body and will be a valuable reserve this fall. But Lane's best opportunities for significant playing time are likely in 2015 and beyond. Powell, who enrolled in January but missed most of spring ball with a fractured foot, offers something none of the other backs have -- speed. If he can get around the corner and hit an occasional home run, Powell's bright future could come sooner than later. The future for the running back position overall at UF seems to be changing. With the new scheme in place, the Gators will look to recruit more speed than power. Florida's top target in the 2015 cycle is Ray-Ray McCloud III of Tampa, Fla. The Gators would love to put him in their no-huddle spread attack and watch him scoot.

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